Raiders seeking to end losing streak in games after bye week


ALAMEDA – It’s been more than a decade since the Raiders won a game coming off a bye week, yet players are encouraged by the approach used by coach Dennis Allen in getting that changed.
For evidence, players point to last season when the Raiders outplayed the 5-0 Atlanta Falcons, on the road, in a game they squandered at the very end.
“We came out, everybody took care of their body, we got refreshed, and it showed,” cornerback/punt returner Phillip Adams said of the Raiders first game after their bye week.
On Wednesday, the Raiders concluded their second practice of the week before they dashed for the parking lot and headed into a four-day break.
Allen imparted in them the importance of getting some down time, staying out of trouble and staying focused.
The coaches will spend some of the time while the players are away breaking down their tendencies, taking a look at what the most successful teams are doing and getting a jump on the next game, Oct. 27 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Getting the rest, obviously, will be critical,” Allen said. “We’ve got to do a great job, as coaches, having a great plan for our players and put them in position to have success.”
As helpful as it is getting an extended break midseason, safety Charles Woodson said, it’s just as vital that the Raiders get some of their injured players back for the Steelers game.
Nowhere is that more glaring than with the offensive line, Woodson said. The Raiders lost two starters during their game against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday and began the game minus left offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and center Stefen Wisniewski.
Wisniewski (knee) should be back for the Steelers game. Same goes for right tackle Tony Pashos and backup lineman Andre Gurode.
The Raiders lost their past 10 games coming off a bye week. As they showed last season, there’s no reason why they can’t play their best game of the season after a week off.
Adams said Allen drilled home the point about what’s expected of the players between now and the Steelers game.
“Stay on top of what you need to stay on top of, just be prepared and don’t lose what you gained,” Adams said. “We feel like we’re moving in a good direction, regardless of what our record might say.”

— The past three games for D.J. Hayden encapsulated life as a rookie cornerback in the NFL, Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said.
In those games, Hayden got beaten for a key touchdown, made a game-clinching interception, committed a costly pass-interference penalty and forced a fumble.
“You don’t want the big swings,” Tarver said of the hit-and-miss nature of Hayden’s play.
In a perfect world, Hayden plays an entire game without his number being called or his image being displayed on the video board.
“A real good corner in the NFL is a guy that makes about four really good or critical plays for the game and then you don’t notice him for the rest of the game because all he’s doing is his job,” Tarver said.
That time is coming, Tarver said. He and everyone else in the organization are confident in Hayden’s ability to develop into a top-flight player before long.
Woodson understands the pressure on Hayden, given Woodson entered the league as a cornerback and the fourth pick of the 1998 NFL draft.
“When you’re (drafted) 12 overall, they expect you to make plays,” Woodson said of Hayden. “That’s the one area he has to get better at, making plays, because he’s going to have an opportunities week in and week out to do it.”

— Linebacker Miles Burris now is eligible to start practicing with his teammates after sitting out the six weeks required of players on the physically unable to perform list.
However, Allen said, Burris (knee) is like Veldheer (triceps) in that he is making progress but still has a ways to go before he’s cleared for practice. Veldheer is on the injured-reserve/designated to return list and can’t play in a game until Nov. 3, at the earliest.
“We’re getting closer with both those players,” Allen said. “I don’t think they’re there yet. We won’t do anything to activate those two guys until we feel they’re ready to go.”
Veldheer said he is eager to rejoin his teammates on the field and play in a game for the first time this season.
“It’s getting better every day,” Veldheer said of the injury he suffered during training camp. “I haven’t hit any obstacles or bumps in the road.”

— The Raiders waived running back George Winn from their practice squad and kicker Eddy Carmona from the injured-reserve list.


Jones ‘one of the best in the league’


ALAMEDA – Taiwan Jones entered the NFL three years ago with visions of running away from defenders and dancing in the end zone after touchdowns.
Things haven’t quite panned out that way, but Jones is making the most of his role as a backup cornerback and key special teams player.
“He’s done an outstanding job,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s one of the best special teams players in this league right now.”
Jones spent most of his time the past two seasons biding his time, waiting for his chance to show what he can do as a running back.
That chance never materialized, with Darren McFadden and others getting almost all the carries and Jones buried on the depth chart. He channeled his energy on special teams.
Jones also made it clear to Allen that he was willing to play anywhere, do anything to get on the field more, even if it meant a position change.
Hence, Allen converted Jones to cornerback, a position Jones played some in college.
Jones is making progress as a cornerback, but it’s special teams where he is making a name for himself as one of the best at sprinting downfield on punts and kick-offs and tackling returners before they realize they’re even in Jones’ sights.
“After making a tackle, that’s when I see the defense running on the field and they feel good about the field position,” Jones said. “That makes me want to work that much harder.”
Jones said his career hasn’t unfolded the way he imagined, but he’s plenty satisfied with the niche he has carved out.
Allen said Jones’ attitude is every bit as important in his success as is his superior speed.
“The first attribute for any special teams player is to understand the importance of it, and understand what that role is on the football team and how that can help this team win games,” Allen said. “Taiwan Jones loves to play football. He’s embraced that role.”

— Raiders special teams play is gaining plenty of recognition for its well-rounded play. Allen said he’s still waiting on the return game to get untracked.
Jacoby Ford’s longest kick return through six games netted 30 yards. On punt returns, 30 of the Raiders 96 yards came on one Phillip Adams return.
Ford said the time is coming when he and Adams are going to bust off long returns and ride that momentum the rest of the season.
“It’s one of those things where you just keep plugging away at it,” Ford said. “Eventually you break one. … As soon as you hit one, everything just starts clicking everywhere.”

— Allen limited practice Tuesday to young players and those in need of extra work as the Raiders head into their bye week.
That meant only 36 of the 61 players on the active and practice squad rosters participated in on-field drills. The 25 others got in some work in other capacities.
This represents a departure from last year, when all healthy players practiced before the bye week.
“It was important for the veteran players to get some time to really take care of their bodies and get themselves back healthy and ready to go for next week,” Allen said.

— Wide receiver Rod Streater said he and others appreciate quarterback Terrelle Pryor being accountable. At the same time, they make sure Pryor knows that not everything negative is his fault.
That’s easier said than done, though, given the way Pryor is wired, Streater added.
“It will bother him for a little bit,” Streater said, “but once he watches film and he sees exactly what he needs to correct he gets over it. But he’s a perfectionist so he’s going to want to work hard and make no mistakes.”

— The Raiders practice Wednesday, then the players are excused until Monday.
Allen said he wants his players to enjoy their down time, yet remain focused on the big picture.
“We’ve got to … understand that when we get back rolling, we’ve got to have our body and our mind ready for the stretch run of the season,” Allen said. “That will be critical for our success moving forward.”


Pryor takes full blame for Raiders loss to Chiefs


By Carl Steward

ALAMEDA — No member of the Kansas City Chiefs was as rough on Terrelle Pryor as he was on himself.

The Raiders quarterback passed erratically during a 24-7 loss at Kansas City, but he wasn’t passing the buck Monday in a brutal self-examination of his performance after watching the game film.

“What disappoints me is we lost the game because of me; that’s how I look at it,” said Pryor, who threw three interceptions and was sacked 10 times Sunday.

“You know what?” he continued. “I deserved them hits, because I didn’t get the ball out, and on one play I called the wrong protection. You make mistakes like that, you deserve to get pile-driven into the ground.”

Pryor went on bashing himself for nearly 15 minutes. Good thing he didn’t have a sword in his locker or he might have fallen on it.

“Defensively we played great, offensively we played great,” he said. “It was just No. 2. That’s the only way I’m going to get better is taking the blame that’s really my blame”

Pryor went into detail about his mishaps Sunday, but one of the most obvious ones was failing to get the play called in the huddle promptly, which resulted in three delay-of-game penalties.

“That’s tough, I’ll take fault on that,” he said. “I’ve got to get guys in the huddle, and I wasn’t calling the plays until about 15 seconds left. I thought we rushed a lot because we were rushing. It starts with me.”

Coach Dennis Allen, while conceding Pryor might have had his worst game, was mindful that his inexperienced quarterback is going to take some hard lessons.

“He’s still a young player,” Allen said. “That was his fifth start of the season, so he’s still got a lot of growing to do and a lot of getting better to do. We’re going to continue to try to build and grow with him.”

Pryor said he was “ashamed” of how he represented the coaches who worked so hard to prepare him and added that if he has more games like he did Sunday, he wouldn’t blame them if they gave him the hook.

“I have to be on top of my stuff, because at any moment I could get pulled off my job and I won’t be the starter,” he said. “I can’t play like I played yesterday or I won’t be here very long.”

• Allen had his own view of the breakdowns getting plays called in the din of Arrowhead Stadium.

“The communications, getting in and out of the huddle, those are the things we have to get cleaned up,” Allen said. “That starts with me, and I’ll do a better job of getting our guys prepared and understanding exactly what the game plan is and how we have to execute.”

• Sebastian Janikowski missed his fourth field goal in 11 attempts this season, which is one more miss than he had last season in 34 tries.

“It’s obvious something we have to look at, because all the misses have come off the left hash,” Allen said. “We have to see if it’s the operations or something he’s doing in his kicking motion. Obviously, he mis-hit the ball. He kind of toed it a little bit, but that’s a kick we normally anticipate him making.”

• Of the Raiders’ 11 penalties, only one was against the defense, but it was a costly one — the pass interference on rookie D.J. Hayden right before halftime on a third-and-10 play. It kept the Raiders from going into intermission with a 7-0 lead.

“That was a big momentum swing in the game, that two-minute drive,” Allen said. “D.J. is a young player who’s out there against Dwayne Bowe, and he kind of panicked a little bit on the play. He was actually in pretty good position.”

• The Raiders didn’t report any major injuries from the Chiefs game. Center Andre Gurode pulled a quadriceps that forced him out of the game, right tackle Tony Pashos suffered a hip-flexor injury, and cornerback Tracy Porter has a shoulder injury.

The Raiders will practice Tuesday and Wednesday but then take four days off to heal their wounds.

“I think the bye is coming at a great time for us,” Allen said. “We’ve got a lot of guys down with injuries right now, and we need them to be able to get some rest, get healed up and get ready to go for Pittsburgh.”

Follow Carl Steward on Twitter at twitter.com/stewardsfolly.


Notes, quotes and stats from Raiders-Chiefs game


KANSAS CITY – The Raiders offensive line had its hands full against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday even in the best of circumstances.
Imagine the task when the offensive line was forced to play with career right guard Mike Brisiel at center and rookies Lamar Mady and Matt McCants summoned for duty in the middle of the game.
“It’s something we’ve been battling, but it’s the name of the game,” Brisiel said. “You’ve got to keep moving on. You’ve got to find a way. We can’t use that as an excuse. We’ve got to keep moving forward somehow.”
The Raiders entered Sunday’s game with a makeshift offensive line that was minus two starters and one starter playing out of position.
Things got worse in the second quarter when backup center Andre Gurode, who was starting in place of injured regular Stefen Wisniewski, left the game with a knee injury.
That necessitated Brisiel sliding over to center, a position he last played in 2007 when he was with NFL Europe.
Matters got almost comical when right offensive tackle Tony Pashos left the game at halftime with a groin injury.
Gurode and Pashos were playing to being with only because of injuries to Wisniewski and regular left tackle Jared Veldheer.
The Chiefs showed that they could get to quarterback Terrelle Pryor from the outset. However, it’s worth noting that seven of their 10 sacks came after Gurode and Pashos were gone.
“As good as they are on defense, you want to have all of your weapons, all of your guys up front to protect,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “But that’s the NFL, and we have to be able to go out and function and play. We weren’t able to do that (Sunday).”
By halftime, the Raiders had no offensive linemen playing the position they played last season or were projected to play this season.

— Raiders rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden once again turned in a feast-or-famine performance that showed he still is adjusting to life in the NFL.
On a second-quarter drive, Hayden got beat for 17 yards on a pass to receiver Dwayne Bowe and committed a pass interference penalty on a third-and-10 play.
The latter play gave the Chiefs 17 yards and a first down at the Raiders 7-yard line. The Chiefs scored a game-tying touchdown on the next play.
“I didn’t get my head around,” Hayden said in explaining the penalty. “All I got to do is get my head around and I’ll be alright.”
Hayden atoned for his spotty play by forcing a fumble on a short pass to receiver Donnie Avery. Fellow cornerback Charles Woodson recovered the loose ball.
“I don’t care if it’s D.J. or whoever out there, you’re going to get some pass interference calls,” Woodson said of Hayden’s performance, “but you can’t quit playing. We know he’s not going to quit playing. He came up with a huge play when they were driving down.”

— It’s reached the point where the Raiders can say they have Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles’ number.
Sure, Charles scored two touchdowns Sunday, but that owed more to favorable field position than what Charles did.
Charles finished with 78 yards on 22 carries for a 3.5-yard average. He averaged 4.3 in the Chiefs first five games.
Last season, Charles rushed for 1,495 yards and averaged 5.5 yards in 14 games against teams other than the Raiders. He totaled 14 yards on 14 carries in two games against the Raiders.

— Running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings played Sunday despite lingering hamstring injuries. They combined for 64 yards on 20 carries and four receptions for 40 yards.

— Sebastian Janikowski missed short on a 51-yard field-goal attempt early in the second quarter. That marked his fourth miss this season, or one more than he missed all last season.

— The Chiefs padded their league-leading sack total (31) with 10 takedowns of Pryor. The Raiders fared pretty well in that category, as well, as they sacked Alex Smith three times and improved their season total to 16

— Wide receiver Andre Holmes was active for a regular-season game for the first time since he returned from a four-game suspension. He had one pass directed his way.
The Raiders waited a week before they activated Holmes to their 53-man roster upon his return from the suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Coincidentally, second-year receiver Juron Criner was deactivated for the sixth straight game.

— The Raiders averaged 8.8 penalties for 67.2 yards their first five games. They got flagged 11 times for 68 yards against the Chiefs.


Raiders mistaked-filled game vs. Chiefs still counts as progress


KANSAS CITY – Coach Dennis Allen viewed Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs as a measuring stick for the progress being made by the Raiders this season.
The closer-than-it-seemed, 24-7 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium showed Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie that the Raiders are headed in the right direction, though there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“We’re close,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “But when you play a good football team, they capitalize on the mistakes that you make. That’s the reason why they’re 6-0.”
And it’s a big reason why the Raiders are 2-4 as they enter their bye week, four games behind the Chiefs and the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
The Raiders will spend the next several days trying to learn from their uneven play against the Chiefs and likely several more expelling the bitter taste from their mouths.
The Chiefs feasted upon a Raiders team that committed 11 penalties, allowed 10 sacks and served up three interceptions by quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Most of that negative stuff came after the Raiders jumped to a 7-0 lead, which they held until late in the second quarter.
The Chiefs tied the game late in the first half, but the Raiders still felt as if they controlled the game because of how well their defense played, according to Woodson and several of his defensive mates.
The game turned late in the third quarter when Pryor attempted a pass in the face of a Chiefs blitz, while throwing off his back foot and into heavy traffic.
Chiefs safety Quintin Demps intercepted Pryor’s ill-advised pass. Running back Jamaal Charles scored the first of his two touchdowns four plays later.
It was all Chiefs from there on out, with Pryor spending most of his time being sacked, harassed and frustrated by a defense he flourished against early on.
Pryor completed seven of his first nine passes for 100 yards and a touchdown and sported a 150.0 passer rating.
He completed only 11 of his final 25 passes for 116 yards and no touchdowns, while being intercepted three times. He finished with a 45.7 passer rating.
“It’s a great learning experience for him,” Allen said. “He’ll be better for it when he gets put back in this type of environment again and he’ll do a better job.”
As usual, Pryor accepted responsibility for his mistakes and shifted blame away from his teammates.
He vowed to use this game as part of his maturation into a starting quarterback and take steps to lessen the likelihood of his making the same mistakes.
“You’re going to make mistakes,” Pryor said. “Understand why it happens. Fix who is at fault, whether it’s me or whoever. That’s all you can really do. … We lost the game because of turnovers. They were on me.”
Pryor said it’s incumbent upon the Raiders offense to hold up its end in games, especially in a game like this one where the Raiders limited the Chiefs to 216 yards net offense and forced quarterback Alex Smith into more incomplete passes than ones caught by his receivers.
The big difference, of course, was Smith’s ability to remain patient, make just enough plays and avoid turnovers.
“I wouldn’t say it’s lack of efficiency,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, when asked about Smith completing 14 of 31 passes. “He’s taking care of the football. When it counts, he makes the play.
“I appreciate him. We’re winning football games, and he’s doing a nice job managing it. Everybody feeds off it on both sides of the ball.”
Smith also benefited from more continuity from his offensive line, whereas Pryor watched two starters leave with injuries in the first half.
None of the Raiders used injuries, crowd noise or questionable officiating as an excuse.
“We’re disappointed,” defensive end Jason Hunter said. “We had a chance to win the game. We played hard. We just got to find a way to get these wins. You can’t make mistakes in a game like this.”


Chiefs 24, Raiders 7 — Final


KANSAS CITY – The Kansas City Chiefs parlayed an interception late in the third quarter into a tiebreaking touchdown drive, then relied on their defense to close out the game against the Raiders on Sunday.
The formula worked quite well as the Chiefs sealed the 24-7 win with a barrage of sacks of Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a stifling defensive effort overall.
The Chiefs improved to 6-0 with the win, while the Raiders dropped to 2-4 on the season.
The game turned when safety Quintin Demps snagged the ill-advised pass by Pryor, and the Chiefs scored a tiebreaking touchdown four plays later on the second of running back Jamaal Charles’ two rushing touchdowns.
Backup cornerback Marcus Cooper, pressed into duty when starter Brandon Flowers couldn’t go, sealed the game with an interception of Pryor with 4 minutes, 9 seconds left.
Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah closed out the scoring with a 44-yard interception return for touchdown with 1:35 left.
Pryor outplayed counterpart Alex Smith in the first half, but it was Smith that made more key plays from late in the second half through the end of the game.
The Raiders finished the game down two offensive linemen that started the game – center Andre Gurode and right tackle Tony Pashos. That no doubt contributed to the Chiefs sacking Pryor 10 times and harassing him several other plays.
The Raiders also came undone too often as a result of penalties. They played penalty-free football for the first quarter but committed four in the second quarter and five in the third.
Meanwhile, Smith played a conservative game without any turnovers, and the Chiefs committed only four penalties.
Things looked promising for the Raiders early on as they jumped to a 7-0 lead on a short pass from Pryor to wide receiver Denarius Moore that Moore turned into a 39-yard touchdown.
The Chiefs tied the game late in the first half on a 7-yard run by Charles.
Raiders rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden aided the Chiefs scoring drive by committing a pass interference penalty on a third-and-10 play.
The Raiders held their own against the Chiefs in the first half and even outplayed them for stretches.
In the second half, Hayden atoned for his first-half gaffe with a forced fumble inside the Raiders 10-yard line and the Chiefs destined for a tiebreaking score midway through the third quarter.
Fellow cornerback Charles Woodson was there to fall on the loose ball and keep the game tied. For Woodson, that marked his third turnover in two games – he has an interception and fumble recovery against the Chargers a week earlier.